EU demands ‘full clarification’ over NSA spying on European diplomats, warns of severe impact on relations

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The president of the European parliament has demanded an explanation from US authorities over the latest revelation that EU diplomatic missions in Washington, New York and Brussels were under electronic surveillance from the NSA.

“I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices,” said the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.”

“On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Germany’s justice minister also called for an immediate explanation from the United States saying the news that Washington bugged European Union offices was “reminiscent of the Cold War.”

“It must ultimately be immediately and extensively explained by the American side whether media reports about completely disproportionate tapping measures by the US in the EU are accurate or not,” Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement.

Other EU diplomats also expressed shock concerning the latest batch of revelations in the NSA leak, reported by Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday.

“If these reports are true, it’s disgusting,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Der Spiegel.

“The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies,” Asselborn continued. “We must get a guarantee from the very highest level now that this stops immediately.”

A spokesman for the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence had no comment on the Der Spiegel story, Reuters reported.

Der Spiegel, quoting from a September 2010 “top secret” US National Security Agency (NSA) document leaked by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, reported on Saturday the NSA was eavesdropping on the EU’s internal computer networks in Washington, as well as at the 28-member bloc UN office in New York.

The German magazine also reported that five years ago, the NSA also targeted telecommunications at the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home to the European Council, where all EU member states have their offices.

Snowden, 30, fled the US for Hong Kong in May, just weeks before The Guardian and Washington Post published details he provided about a top-secret US government surveillance program that accumulated internet and telephone traffic both at home and abroad.

The whistleblower is presently in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where it is believed he is attempting to gain political asylum in Ecuador.

Lode Vanoost, former deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament, believes that the main purpose of the US surveillance program was “economic spying” on the EU.

“At the moment, the EU is negotiating a new free trade agreement with the United States,” the former deputy speaker noted. “Well, [now the US can gather] what their opponent is already discussing internally of strategy. That is one of the possibilities.”

Vanoost also believes that part of the reason for the spying was due to the decline in US economic strength.

“On the economic level, [the US] is losing ground everywhere,” he said. “Look at what the BRIC countries are doing. The EU is having stronger ties with Russia, with Africa, with Latin America. And the US doesn’t seem to get its economic priorities imposed as it used to. So what I see is a big risk for economic spying.”

He added that there is “too much at stake” for there to be a total breakdown in US-EU bilateral relations, however, “behind closed doors there will be some very tough words” exchanged between EU and American officials.

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Posted on June 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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